With the launch of the Apple watch traditional watchmaking companies accept that they will be forced to respond. If this indeed is true no one knows today: A mechanical wristwatch is a personal statement and a long-lasting luxury good. An Apple Watch is a gadget, an electronic device.
One thing is certain: in 12 months we will see the second generation, and in 18 months probably the third generation of the Apple Watch, with subsequent updates thereafter. A mechanical watch can be worn for decades or can even be passed on to our children and grandchildren.
But the battle for the wrist could also become a zero sum game: once the Apple Watch has stopped the habit of wearing a mechanical watch, a substantial part of the millennial generation might be lost for the Swiss watch companies, maybe forever.
Opportunities for media companies
While this disruption thus may hurt the watch companies it creates exciting new channels for media companies.
For example, at Ebner we offer magazines and websites for firefighters and medical staff, among many other niches. For such groups Apple Watch apps of interest would be: real-time access to medical data, portable lexicons as well as features to seamlessly connect with other medical staff that too is equipped with the Apple Watch. It is not illusionary to assume that content displayed on the Apple Watch integrates directly into the workflow of our target groups and supports their daily work routines.
From a strategic management perspective the Apple Watch is yet another outlet for our content, marketing updates and push notifications, especially now that messaging services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Weibo are increasingly popular with audiences around the world.
Not only to push content, but create content too
The Apple Watch is the perfect device for short news, short videos or podcasts. And there will be unprecedented opportunities as well that might finally break the obstacles of connecting the many screens and devices we use nowadays: let’s say our music magazine readers go to a live concert, and then let their Apple Watches record heartbeat and blood pressure.
The readers could share some data with our editors who would then be able to incorporate that data in their articles or top 10 lists – the top 10 rock songs that make your heart beat faster, smooth jazz songs that decrease your blood pressure, and so forth.
Suddenly, editorial content gets an entirely new dimension, it gets more personal than ever before.
The zero sum game for the wrist becomes a sum+ game for interpersonal media. Of course publishers will have to understand that it is not enough to replicate old habits with new devices. The lost publishing battles in the digital age (e.g. paid content) indicate that the magazine media industry should probably react much faster to emerging trends.
While this disruption caused by the Apple watch might hurt the traditional watch companies, I believe we, as media companies, will benefit from a landscape of connected personal devices that create and spread rich personal content tightly aligned with our services.
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The FIPP World Congress in Toronto, Canada from 13-15 October, where Grau and Ebner Verlag CEO Gerrit Klein will talk about Ebner’s transformation.